It’s time to explore the Nine (or Eight) Divines worshiped throughout Tamriel for breathing life into Man and Mer including; Akatosh, Stendarr, Arkay, Mara, Zenithar, Talos, Kynareth, Dibella, and Julianos.
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We learned previously that dark supernatural forces are alive and well on Tamriel. The Daedric Princes are in large the embodiment of change and chaos. They seem to love stirring things up on Nirn, which is pretty ironic considering they didn’t attribute a single thing in it’s creation. It was their counterparts, the Aedra whom he owe our existence to as mortals. It was the Aedra who gave themselves in our creation, and it was the Aedra who became the bones of our planet. In the ancient Aldmeric tongue Aedra translates to mean, “our ancestors”.
Unlike the Daedra, the Aedra do not have their own immortal planes within Oblivion. Rather, the act of creation bound them permanently to the mortal plane, so unlike the Daedra, the Aedra can infact be killed, which is why their are some that consider them “unworthy of worship”. To the majority of Tamriel, however, the Aedra are revered as gods, and are given the collective name “The Divines.” These Aedra, having given much of their divine essence to create Nirn, cannot physically walk the planet, but they are still believed to influence it in their own way. Worshippers of the Divines believe their destiny to be guided and protected by the Divines, and history has often proven them to be right.
Firstborn of the Aedra, Dragon God of Time and chief deity of the Nine Divines- Akatosh represents the qualities of endurance, invincibility, and everlasting legitimacy. Akatosh is considered the god defender of the Empire. As lord of the Aedra, Akatosh took pity on the plight of mortal man, who were slaves of the Daedra worshiping Ayleids. Looking down on men he drew precious blood from his own heart, and blessed St Alessia with the blood of Dragons, or as we know it- The Amulet of Kings. This ancient Covenant sealed shut the jaws of Oblivion long enough for St Alessia to free her people, ensuring the birth of an Empire.
In the province of Cyrodiil, Akatosh’s main chapel is located in the city of Kvatch. At his chapels, he blesses his followers with increased magicka and speed.
Akatosh tells us: Serve and obey your Emperor. Study the Covenants. Worship the Nine, do your duty, and heed the commands of the saints and priests.
God of Righteous Might and Merciful Forbearance- Stendarr is the inspiration of kings and rulers. He is the patron of the Imperial Legions and the comfort of the law-abiding citizen. In the wake of the Oblivion Crisis followers of Stendarr formed the organization known as the Vigilants of Stendarr, whose sole mission is to eradicate the Daedra and their followers, no matter what their form. The Vigilants of Stendarr wander the countryside looking to enforce justice. They’re particularly fond of saying the words, “May Stendarr have mercy on you, for the Vigil has none to spare.”. This saying of theirs is pretty ironic considering these self proclaimed believers are supposed to be in service to the god of mercy.
The Chapel of Stendarr is located in Cyrodilic Chorrol, and, according to legend, the Gauntlets of the Divine Crusader are located within.
Stendarr tells us: “Be kind and generous to the people of Tamriel. Protect the weak, heal the sick, and give to the needy.”
God of the Cycle of Birth and Death- Arkay is associated with burials and funeral rites. Arkay is thought to be the son of Akatosh. Sometimes called The Mortals’ God, Arkay is the great spirit who brings every man, elf, and beast into the world, and when he deems the time right he ends their circle of life and death, because of this, Arkay is fertility and blight, joy and sorrow.
Arkay’s main chapel is located in the Cyrodilic city of Cheydinhal, where he blesses pilgrims with increased fortitude.
Arkay tells us: Honor the earth, its creatures, and the spirits, living and dead. Guard and tend the bounties of the mortal world, and do not profane the spirits of the dead.
The Goddess of Love- Mara is the patron of the bountiful earth, and the source of mortal compassion and understanding. In some writings she is thought to be the wife of Akatosh. Chapels devoted to the Mother Goddess of Tamriel are called Benevolences, because her followers are devoted to uniting all creatures as children of Mara. They are intolerant only of those who show intolerance; they hate only those who hate.
For a reasonable donation to a Benevolence, the patron will be blessed and supposedly be forever beloved by he or she who loves them best.
Mara tells us: Live soberly and peacefully. Honor your parents, and preserve the peace and security of home and family.
God of Work and Commerce, the Provider of Ease, and the Trader God- Zenithar is the deity of wealth, labor, commerce- and Man and Mer’s most powerful gift- communication. Many followers of Zenithar have demonstrated that through earnest work and honest profit, not through war and bloodshed, peace and prosperity reign true.
For the honest pilgrim Zenithar will bestow a most prized weapon- a silver tongue.
Zenithar tells us: Work hard, and you will be rewarded. Spend wisely, and you will be comfortable. Never steal, or you will be punished.
Among Men, he is the the greatest hero to ever walk on the mortal plane. Talos is the God of War, Heir to the Seat of Sundered Kings, and Dragonborn. Tiber Septim’s great deeds here on Nirn were so legendary that he ascended to godhood as Talos- and the Eight became Nine.
The story of Tiber Septim, the man, is a long and profound one. He is arguably one of the most influential mortals who ever lived. His is a story we will surely return to time and again, but for now, know that he was the one who brought about the dawn of Era when he conquered all of Tamriel; bringing even the high and haughty Elves to their knees. Unifying an entire continent, Tiber Septim crowned himself the First Emperor of Tamriel, and at the ripe age of 108 he ascended to godhood as Talos, taking the Divines from Eight to Nine. It is important to note however that the matter of Talos’ godhood is still a point of debate, both in how and whether it happened. So naturally, like any good Tamrielic debate; wars will be fought, and blood will be spilled.
Talos tells us: Be strong for war. Be bold against enemies and evil, and defend the people of Tamriel.
Deity of the heavens, the winds, the elements, and the unseen spirits of the air- Kynareth is patron to sailors and travelers. In some legends, she is the first of the Aedra to agree to Lorkhan’s plan to invent the mortal plane of Mundus, and provides the space for its creation.
It is said Kynareth took pity on Man and gifted them with the thu’um so they could harness the language of the dragons and use its power against them, to save themselves from the wrath of Alduin and his servants.
Pilgrims seeking Kynareth’s blessings receive the gift of heightened stamina.
Kynareth tells us: Use Nature’s gifts wisely. Respect her power, and fear her fury.
She has nearly a dozen different cults, some devoted to women, some to artists, and others to erotic instruction- Dibella is the Goddess of Beauty and Lady of Love. Houses of worship dedicated to her are sometimes called Houses of Dibella, though like most places of worship they are also referred to as chapels or temples. She tends to attract individuals who live life in the pursuit of sensual pleasure. Worshipping Dibella is thought of as a more personal and intimate association than worshipping the other Divines.
Cyrodiil’s Chapel of Dibella resides in Anvil. Prayers heard by Dibella within the chapel fortify Personality, through Dibella’s Kiss.
Dibella tells us: Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Treasure the gifts of friendship. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love.
God of Wisdom and Logic- Julianos is the father of language, mathematics, literature, law, history, and contradiction. He is usually associated with magic and thus often revered by wizards. Orders dedicated to Julianos are the keepers of the mysterious Elder Scrolls.
Julianos tells us: Know the truth. Observe the law. When in doubt, seek wisdom from the wise.
The Daedra might be known for their hyperactive tendencies for meddling, but make no mistake. As citizens of Tamriel our everyday existence is a living testament to the Aedra. So what is it? Daedra or Aedra- which side do you fall on?